Opinions about branding by Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal

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Friday, October 20, 2017

Why is Pret a winning brand? Managers like this. 

I have watched her give a rousing, morale-boosting, sometimes chastising morning pep talk on several occasions. Today the staff actually CHEERED. 

She tells them about the new dishes coming in. 

She reminds them about safety. 

She introduces senior leadership. 

She rolls her sleeves up. 

She cares. 

She is deeply, deeply engaged in her job. 

I can tell all this from a mile away, and it gives me even more confidence and trust about the food they sell. 

On the wall there are posters about their obsession with keeping avocados fresh and cutting vegetables properly. 

The signs are matched with their passion for great management. 

When you want to know why management is the basis of branding — watch a company like this in action.


Copyright 2017 by Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions are the author’s own. Photo by Dr. Blumenthal.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

I left this stunning bag because I simply ran out of money to buy things. You can still get it.

I also left all this stuff.

All this for less than the price of a decent shirt at a fine firsthand retail establishment.

I am wearing a blouse from ThredUp now. I feel good knowing that my clothes are better than usual, and they didn't break the bank.

If you have the brains to shop secondhand, ThredUp has unbelievable stuff. And they package it beautifully.

Use my link to get started and you will get 10% off. Search online for promo codes and you may get a deep discount off your first order as well.


*Sponsored post. Copyright 2017 by Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions are Dr. Blumenthal's own. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A collection of sites offering free photos. Gathered primarily from:
I tried to scrub the list as best I could, but this may contain some errors. Feel free to mix and match with your own.
  1. Agricultural Research Service
  2. Air Force
  3. America's Historical Documents - Images and Transcripts
  4. Ancestry Images
  5. Architect of the Capitol Flickr
  6. Army
  7. BigFoto
  8. Biomedical Images from the National Library of Medicine
  9. Bureau of Land Management
  10. Cascades Volcano Observatory
  11. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Public Health
  12. Central Intelligence Agency Flickr
  13. Coast Guard
  14. CompFight
  15. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  16. Creative Commons Image Search
  17. Customs and Border Protection
  18. Death to the Stock Photo
  19. Defense and International Relations
  20. Defense Department
  21. Defense Intelligence Agency
  22. Defense Intelligence Agency Flickr
  23. Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System
  24. Defense Visual Information
  25. DefenseLink (click on Photos/Videos) 
  26. Department of Energy - Photo Galleries
  27. Department of Energy Flickr
  28. Department of the Treasury
  29. DoD Joint Combat Camera Center 
  30. DoD News Photos
  31. Earth as Art
  32. Energy Department's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
  33. Energy Department's Energy Technology Visuals Collection
  34. Environment, Energy, and Agriculture
  35. EveryStockPhoto (choose Advanced Search to restrict licensing)
  36. Federal Bureau of Investigation
  37. Federal Emergency Management Agency Photo Library
  38. Federal Register Flickr
  39. Flags of the World 
  40. Flickr "U.S. Government Works" Search
  41. Flickr Commons
  42. Forestry Images
  43. Free Digital Photos
  44. Free Images
  45. Free Photos Bank
  46. Free Pik
  47. Free Range Stock
  48. FreeFoto (free for non-commercial use)
  49. FreeImages.com
  50. FreeMediaGoo
  51. Google Image Search (Licensed for Non-Commercial Re-Use)
  52. Government Publishing Office
  53. Gratisography
  54. Homeland Security
  55. IM Free
  56. ImageAfter
  57. ImageBase 
  58. ImageFree
  59. Images from the History of Public Health by the National Library of Medicine
  60. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  61. Kozzi 
  62. Library of Congress
  63. Life of Pix
  64. Maps (Site with many links to map sources) 
  65. Marines
  66. Money
  67. Morguefile
  68. MorgueFile - photo archive for creatives by creatives
  69. NASA – Great Images
  70. NASA Photos
  71. NASA's Earth Observatory
  72. National Agricultural Library's Special Collections
  73. National Archives Online Catalog
  74. National Cancer Institute
  75. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
  76. National Cryptological Museum Photos Gallery (Facebook)
  77. National Defense University Govt Photo Links
  78. National Eye Institute images
  79. National Eye Institute's Photo, Image, and Video Catalog
  80. National Gallery of Art Images
  81. National Geospatial Intelligence Agency
  82. National Guard
  83. National Human Genome Research Institute Photo Gallery
  84. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
  85. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
  86. National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering
  87. National Institute of General Medical Sciences
  88. National Institute of Mental Health
  89. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Flickr
  90. National Institutes of Health
  91. National Institutes of Health Flickr
  92. National Institutes of Standards and Technology Laboratory Research
  93. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  94. National Park Service Flickr
  95. National Park Service Historic Photo Collection
  96. National Register of Historic Places Flickr
  97. National Science Foundation
  98. National Science Foundation Flickr
  99. National Security Agency Photo Gallery
  100. National Transportation Safety Board Flickr
  101. Navy
  102. New Old Stock
  103. NIH Image Bank
  104. NIH Photo Gallery
  105. NOAA National Marine Sanctuary Photo Library
  106. NOAA Ocean Explorer Media Gallery
  107. NOAA Ocean Service Photo Library
  108. NOAA's photo library
  109. Nothing but Black Helicopters
  110. Office of the Director of National Intelligence
  111. Office of the Director of National Intelligence Flickr
  112. Official Portrait of the President
  113. OpenPhoto
  114. Peace Corps Digital Library
  115. Penn State's Free Media Library
  116. Pexels
  117. PicFindr (mixture of CC, PD, GNU, etc)
  118. PicJumbo
  119. Pixabay
  120. Pond5 Public Domain Project
  121. Public Domain Pictures
  122. Public Health Image Library from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention)
  123. Public image free library
  124. Public Safety and Law
  125. Red Cross photo library
  126. Rgbstock
  127. Royalty Free Icons and Clipart Stock Images http://icons.mysitemyway.com/
  128. Satellite images 
  129. Secret Service
  130. Smithsonian Images
  131. Snapwire Snaps
  132. Start Up Stock Photos
  133. State Department
  134. State Photo and Multimedia Galleries
  135. StockSnap.io
  136. Stockvault
  137. SumAll
  138. Superfamous
  139. The National Archives
  140. The National Science Foundation’s Multimedia Gallery
  141. The Public Domain Project 
  142. The U.S. Army Field Band
  143. The White House Flickr
  144. U.S Navy Flickr
  145. U.S. Agency for International Development Flickr
  146. U.S. Air Force Flickr
  147. U.S. Army Flickr
  148. U.S. Army Women’s Museum
  149. U.S. Capitol Photos
  150. U.S. Department Defense
  151. U.S. Department of Agriculture Flickr
  152. U.S. Department of Agriculture Photo Gallery
  153. U.S. Department of Defense Office of Inspector General
  154. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Flickr
  155. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Flickr
  156. U.S. Department of State Flickr
  157. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Flickr 
  158. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Flickr
  159. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  160. U.S. Geological Survey
  161. U.S. Marine Corps Flickr 
  162. U.S. Mint
  163. U.S. National Archives Flickr
  164. U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Flickr
  165. United Launch Alliance
  166. United Nations News & Media (Photos)
  167. United States Antarctic Program
  168. United States Government Manual Covers
  169. Unsplash
  170. USA.gov - U.S. States Photo Galleries
  171. USA.gov Federal Agency Flickr 
  172. USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Identification Technology Program
  173. USDA APHIS ITP Image Node at Bugwood
  174. USGS Multimedia Gallery
  175. Vecteezy
  176. Vector Scout
  177. White House Photo Gallery
  178. Wikimedia Commons
  179. World Flag Database 
  180. YouTheDesigner
Public domain. Photo by congerdesign via Pixabay.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Recently this Israeli eatery opened in Rockville. 

Let's begin with the fact that the food is excellent. You'll pay a little bit, but you won't go home hungry or unsatisfied.

We happen to get the shwarma. (Food photos and reviews at Yelp; here is a helpful listing of all the kosher restaurants in the Washington, DC area.)

I visited the eatery several times. When it's not too crowded, the narrow space between the cash register and the wall is tolerable. One time there were a lot of people there, and the experience was uncomfortable for me.
Recently I took a trip to Israel, and was in Petach Tikva to change dollars to Israeli shekels. The crowding was noticeable and uncomfortable for me there as well. 

The Israelis did not seem to mind it, and pushed their way past me. This happened when I got on the public bus too.

Clearly, operating in a small busy space is not my comfort zone, and the employees at Oh Mama do not have that luxury either.

But as I say, I've been there several times, and they do not seem to mind. 

Sometimes when I go there, I can see them sitting together outside, and then when customers appear, they go back in.

There is some thought about the customer here. Most of the people behind the counter are facing a food preparation area when they work. So they wear T-shirts that say, "My Back Is To You, But My Heart Is With You."

Let's look at the menu board for a second. Do you know what any of this is? Can you read it quickly?

Neither can I. 
But it doesn't really matter whether you can read it or not. You can't see much of the food you're getting on your shwarma either. 

This is where the best aspect of the restaurant becomes clear. The eatery is run by Israelis, and Israelis are very generous people. 

When we go there, we just ask for our food and say "everything."

(Notice the tzedaka, or charity, box up front. Nice touch.)
I do not recommend that you order the food remotely. They have a couple of food delivery service stickers in the window. But I got a more generous portion when I personally stood there waiting for the food. 
Overall, if you're anywhere in the area and you like Middle Eastern food, you're going to be happy if you eat at Oh Mama Grill.

This is not a paid endorsement, by the way. None of my posts are, unless I tell you otherwise.


Copyright 2017 by Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions are Dr. Blumenthal's own. All rights reserved. Photos by Dr. Blumenthal.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Sometimes the brand is the neighborhood.

We were taking a walk today and saw these new homes under construction. 

The development is Grosvenor Heights, by Sandy Spring Builders. 

It’s kind of hard to tell from my photos but the houses have a quaint charm.

There were people sitting on the front steps of one home. I asked how much they cost.

More than a million dollars.

$1,000,000 plus.

“You’re kidding,” I breathed, looking at the unfinished front of one of them.


I walked around the property and took more photos. It’s actually a beautiful area near the Grosvenor stop of the Red Line, in suburban Maryland near DC.

The homes toward the inside were actually my favorite. Those, I really loved, with the modern square look as well as the elevated porches.

This house was nice too. You’re literally getting the white picket fence.

So why would you pay a million dollars for a home in DC? And it isn’t even full brick, or stone?

It’s new, it’s modern, it’s in an exclusive zip code, and your kids will go to good schools.

For more information about the development, check out the builders’ website: http://grosvenorheights-ssb.com/
Copyright 2017 by Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal. All opinions are the author’s own. Photos by Dr. Blumenthal.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

If you just want to see the photos, go to the album
You can download them for free with attribution.

Today we visited the Washington DC Design House, where the area's top local designers pitch in their talents to create a model home for public viewing, with all the proceeds going to charity.

It was an opportunity to a) see the inside of a mansion b) take a lot of photos c) talk to actual designers about the work that they do.

Karen Snyder, of Interiors of Washington (pictured above) designed Area 14, the "Traveler's Retreat." She talked to me about her style, which is a mix of modern, traditional, and "transitional." I asked her what "transitional" means and she said it bridges the gap between the first two.

Basically, she does what the client wants.

Snyder designed the ottoman sitting in front of her. She told me all the details and to be honest with you, they went over my head. But the cost for two of them runs into the thousands, and I have to tell you, the piece really defined the room.

Melanie Hansen, of Margery Wedderburn Interiors, designed Area 2, the "Living Room." She was nice enough to let me take her picture and to talk about her designs. The photo is included because she personifies a strong personal brand. She seems professional, highly qualified, and practiced in the art of posing for the camera without seeming too artificial.

The most notable thing about the room she designed is the pink lollipop statue. Everyone was looking at it and talking about it, probably because it gives off a vaguely naughty air.

Designers seem very into how they found things. As an observer, I frankly tune that stuff out.

I was interested in this blue velour chair in Area 7, "The Study Royale." Lorna Gross, of Lorna Gross Interior Design (contact@lornagross.com), told me that the entire room was designed around this cheap-looking chair, which somehow also comes off as luxurious.

For me, it was the color that just totally popped. I couldn't look away from it.

Here is a look at Area 3, the "Dining Room." The design is by Susan M. Jamieson, at Bridget Beari Designs. 

This room is not so much my taste, but then again I'm not the target audience. I don't get invited to mansions very much...er, make that never.

On the other hand a well-designed bathroom (a.k.a. "powder room") is a thing of beauty. I loved the dark walls against the soothing light and spare white design of this one, by Mary Amons at Mary Amons Design.

Assistant Ryan M. Van Sickel was standing outside and nodded proudly when I asked if this design was his.

There were some interesting characters at this event. Designer Camille Saum, of Camille Saum Interior Design, dressed a bit eccentrically but if you're rich, I think this means that you're a genius.

I did have fun teasing the rich people. At the cafe they were selling these "sandwiches" at $6 for four. "So these aren't sliders, right?" I said to the attendant. "They're munchers."

She didn't think that was funny.

We didn't love the designers' taste in everything. Again, I think this must be a rich Washingtonian thing...the overall concept was "heavy."

But you have to consider that to these people, a garage sale means blazers that cost $172.

I'm throwing in this one from Meena Tharmaratnam at Ibhana Creations, even though I don't know the exact price, because she was very friendly to me.

Let me say that Area 10, "Modern Professional's Stylish Retreat" (which looks like a girl's bedroom) was a was a stunner. The designer, of Anthony Wilder Design/Build, had to wave them off with a stick. Just look at that stunning mini-couch with a Vogue on it.
Designers can sometimes have weird taste in art. Below is one of the pieces I saw. Not all people would appreciate it, but I totally loved it. It's from Area 9, "The Collector's Cabinet," designed by Josh Hildreth of Josh Hildreth Interiors.

Overall I would definitely recommend taking a visit to this secluded mansion in Potomac. It's all for a good cause. The show ends October 29, 2017.


Copyright 2017 by Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions are Dr. Blumenthal's own. All rights reserved. Photos by me.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

A Known Name Facilitates An Unknown Purchase

A relatively new academic paper, based on both experimental and field-based research, suggests that early adopters prefer existing brand names for cutting-edge products vs. new brand names for less innovative products.

Obviously, the choice of a name is part of a brand strategy and as the article notes, "choice of an appropriate branding strategy is a critical determinant of new product success."

The researchers note that their findings echo prior research suggesting that when it comes to buying a product they don't know, it is reassuring to find it wrapped in a name they are familiar with.

The issue at hand is whether existing brands should gamble their equity on a new high-technology offering, which may or may not be successful.

For Further Reading

Yann Truong, Richard R. Klink, Geoff Simmons, Amir Grinstein, Mark Palmer, Branding strategies for high-technology products: The effects of consumer and product innovativeness, In Journal of Business Research, Volume 70, 2017, Pages 85-91, ISSN 0148-2963, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2016.07.003.(http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0148296316304805)
Keywords: Innovation; Branding; Consumer innovativeness; Product innovativeness; High-technology products


Copyright 2017 by Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions are Dr. Blumenthal's own. All rights reserved. Photo by qimono via Pixabay (CC0 Creative Commons).